A Post-Election customised modular workshop was held from 27-31 August, 2012, Siavonga, Zambia. This project is the second of many interventions by the United Nations Development Programme with a purpose of strengthening and promoting democracy, governance contributing towards human development in the country. The post-election modular workshop is the second BRIDGE course following the Train the Facilitator conducted in 2011. This workshop was the second in the series of post-election capacity development workshops that are planned as part of the training strategy of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).
The Post-Election module is a comprehensive programme designed for election practitioners and policy makers and like all other BRIDGE courses, is based on the BRIDGE Election Administrator’s Training Curriculum which is a comprehensive training programme developed by International IDEA together with the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division (UNEAD), the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). The peculiarity of BRIDGE in the field of electoral training lies in its comprehensiveness, the hands-on nature of its content as well as its novel strategy of deploying adult learning techniques in the implementation of its modules.
This 10-day BRIDGE Post-Election modular course was customised to the Zambian context following the tripartite elections held on 20 September, 2011. The course was specially tailored and delivered over a 5-day period. The overarching objective of the workshop was to emphasise the importance of the post-election period to ECZ employees as they explore aspects of sustainability relating to electoral operations. In addition the following objectives also informed the rationale to conduct the workshop, to:
To outline fundamentals of managing a sustainable electoral management body the ECZ in this instance.
To build capacity and skills of the participants in post-election activities in particular, to inform future planning.
To increase participant’s knowledge and understanding of broader planning and sustainability aspects and concepts.
The tripartite elections of 2011 contributed in great measures to Zambia’s democratic credentials. The ECZ was applauded by the international community for a transparent process conducted with the utmost commitment to participatory democracy thus elevating the integrity of the institution. The smooth transition in the handing over of power by former President Banda to the winner of the elections, President Sata, demonstrated democratic maturity for the greater good of all Zambians. Given the conduct of the September 2011 tripartite elections, the ECZ in partnership with UNDP Zambia, deemed it fit to further enhance the professionalism, efficiency and election administrative skills of the Commission by organising this Post-Election Modular course.
A total of 15 ECZ staff, mostly master trainers, turned up for the course. It is heart-warming to know that ECZ/UNDP partnership is still as strong as it was pre-election period. Also a ray of hope is the ECZ’s commitment in reviewing its delivery of the elections and general performance as demonstrated by adopting the election training strategy approved by the Commission in 2010 ahead of the tripartite elections. This strategy, as was articulated during workshop discussion, is due for review to address gaps identified over the period and re-enforce approaches that worked well.
UNDP planned for 3 facilitators comprising 2 international facilitators and one local. Most of the preparatory work was home-based and communicated to the ECZ secretariat assigned to support the workshop and concluded on arrival 4 days before the commencement of the workshop. Facilitators travelled to the lush Kariba Lake in Siavonga, the workshop venue, two days ahead of the arrival of participants. The ECZ provided secretariat support in order to prepare the course material and while facilitators developed an agenda for the 5-day programme and allocated tasks among themselves ahead of the commencement of the training exercise.
The three facilitators who successfully carried out the task are:
Bridget Masuluke (Workshop Facilitator)
Taona Mwanyisa(Workshop Facilitator) and
Tomsie Dlamini (Accrediting Facilitator)
The facilitators, combined effectively to conduct the workshop. The professional experience of the team was brought to bear on the programme as two of the facilitators have over twelve years each of hands-on election operations essential for modular workshops. The participation of UNDP in this workshop enriched discussions as he is attached to the ECZ and has become a national expert in Zambian elections and is fully au fait with local dynamics. The two facilitators also shared international experiences and all worked together as a team to the admiration and commendation of the participants.
Fifteen (2 females and 13 males) attended the workshop. Seven of the participants were drawn from various departments within the Electoral Commission of Zambia and eight core trainers who are all teachers. These included: Voter Education, Operations and Information Communications Technology. The participants’ number of years spent working for the Commission ranged from under one year to 23 years. One of the seven staff of the electoral Commission who attended the workshop is a Deputy Director of Election Operations.
The workshop kicked off at a high note with amazing commitment from participants. They were divided into 4 groups to work on case studies analysing and domesticating them to elucidate sustainability concepts, aspects and possible methodologies that would be suitable for Zambia. In addition to the case studies developed, participants were required to relate the BRIDGE material to the local context reflecting on the current implementation and how they recommend would be the best strategy to adopt in future elections.
On commencement of the workshop the participants applied the BRIDGE methodology through a variety of activities, namely, debates, case studies, syndicate work, throughout the training programme. As all participants are facilitators themselves they conducted icebreakers and energizers.
Each group presented their work and improvements in the delivery of future elections based on their observations over the election period. This provided an indirect measure of increase in skills and confidence to develop election strategic plans. Groups were varied for different activities except in cases of continuity of activities for subsequent sessions.
The training materials – the case studies and other group work were submitted to the ECZ to help them when they review their strategic plan. An assessment of the level of participant understanding and ability to apply their newly acquired knowledge of monitoring, evaluation and planning processes was observed during the workshop exercises. An end-of day evaluation was administered to obtain their feedback. While this is based on participants’ self-reported data, it provided a fair assessment of the workshop. Recommendations were made based on the suggestions by the participants, workshop observations, and discussions with facilitators.
At the end of each day participants delivered self-developed case studies demonstrating the high level of understanding of sustainability aspects and related concepts. These were handed over to the ECZ as they contain recommendations for future conduct and delivery of elections. Some of the recommendations emanating from both the case studies and other sessions will require a review of the ECZ’s strategic plan building in the necessary risk assessment and mitigation strategies.
Participants were also required to complete their reintegration plan to apply the knowledge gained from the workshop and to use it as a roadmap to self-assess their progress.
An end of course evaluation which is in a form of a questionnaire consisting of questions and rating scales was completed by all participants in order to assist the organisers and facilitators on areas of improvement for the course.
General comments from participants were captured as listed below:
I have come to appreciate the benefits of working in a team.
The intensity and course content the this course has given new meaning to the power of team spirit, dedication, resilience and a positive attitude – a ‘can-do’ spirit and will to succeed.
The course has revealed to me new ways of doing things I have always thought I had done in a better way. This has also taught me that the biggest room is that of improvement, always.